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Julius Eastman: Unjust Malaise
By David Lewis

Julius Eastman (1940-1990) was a composer in good company around 1970. The booklet to New World Records's survey of Eastman's never before issued compositions contains a number of group shots showing Eastman in the presence of such luminaries as Lukas Foss, Lejaren Hiller, Pauline Oliveros, Jan Williams, Eberhard Blum, David Del Tredici, Morton Feldman and other first tier proponents of contemporary music of that time. The fact that Eastman's face is the only black one in these photos seems not to have impacted the attitude of his colleagues, any more than Oliveros or Renée Levine, then director of the University at Buffalo's Center of the Creative and Performing Arts, presence as the only women in these images might suggest. Eastman's blackness, combined with his uncompromising, difficult career choices, politically incorrect subject material and vulnerability in the age of Jesse Helms are all reasons why New World Records's Julius Eastman: Unjust Malaise marks the very first inkling we've had on disc of what an unbelievable talent Eastman was, and the nature of his singular contribution to American classical music... Kyle Gann's impassioned notes are well worth reading also, and set the stage for more installments of Eastman's recordings. More